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JISR in Conversation

Marja Burchard - Artist, Performer, Composer)

Marja Burchard Born in 1985, Marja Burchard is the daughter of Christian Burchard, and the leader and musician of the international music group Embryo. She is an artist, performer, composer and multiinstrumentalist living in Munich, Germany.

Marja, how do you perceive South Asia and what shaped this image?

I had the privilege of listening to music from India live from an early age. My father Christian Burchard invited musicians he met on the Asian tour in 1979 to Germany to play together. Thus I began to experience the other tradition when I was still a child. I observed that the Indian singer R.A. Ramamani meditated before the concerts and before playing music. I perceived an intense power emanating from her and the musicians, which touched me as a child. So I can say that the image I had of Southeast Asia was shaped by the musicians who were our guests.

How does South Asia influence your music?

Thanks to the contact with wonderful musicians I had the honor to learn and play the compositions of T.A.S Mani and R.A.Ramamani from Karnataka College of Percussion, as well as Deobrat Mishra from Varanasi/Banaras. Each time I learned music and worked with the musicians, my own understanding broadened and influenced my approach to music. This way the several musicians influenced me in my own compositions, like logical mathematical structures of compositions, strong discipline towards melodies, rhythms, as well as respectful attitude towards music making and concerts.

What are your expectations from your tour of South Asia? What are you looking forward to?

My expectations are usually low, because I never know if everything will work out as planned. So I'm not too disappointed if it can't take place. I let myself be surprised, and I'm really looking forward to everything working out as planned. I'm excited about the exchange with the different musicians, and that this might lead to sustainable contacts, possibly also for the group Embryo, so that they can travel to India again.

Roman Bunka (Guitarist and Composer)

Roman Bunka Working with the pioneering German rock-jazz and world-music group Embryo, Roman Bunka broke new ground with his Eastern-influenced guitar playing and composing. In the seventies and eighties, he performed with Embryo in India, Afghanistan, Turkey and Marocco. 

Roman, how do you perceive South Asia and who/what shaped this image?

In South Asia you find some of the oldest cultures of the world, Hinduism and Buddhism have also influenced the West enormously. Spiritual trends influenced the post-war generations in the West, including meditation and yoga, Meher Baba, Sri Aurobindo, Inayat Khan, Tagore, hippie fashion and incense sticks.

How does South Asia influence your music?

As a teenager, I was already familiar with the music of this region, especially through the encounter of Ravi Shankar and Yehudi Menuhin in the 60s. Since then, South Asian Modal Music has influenced musicians in all genres (Jazz, Pop, New Music).

What are your expectations from your tour of South Asia? What are you looking forward to?

I am traveling to South Asia again after 40 years and I am curious about what changed in these countries. I hope to get new impulses through this trip and also to be able to share my many years of experience as a musician and composer with the local artists.

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